- Pokémon: The First Movie
Pokémon: The First Movie
North American VHS cover
Directed by Kunihiko Yuyama Produced by Chōji Yoshikawa
Written by Takeshi Shudō Narrated by Japanese:
Music by Japan:
Cinematography Hisao Shirai Editing by Toshio Henmi
Studio OLM, Inc. Distributed by Japan:
Release date(s) July 18, 1998(Japan) Running time 75 minutes
21 minutes (Pikachu's Vacation)
Country Japan Language Japanese Budget
¥3 billion(US $30 million)
Box office $163,644,662
Pokémon: The First Movie, originally released as Pocket Monsters the Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back (劇場版ポケットモンスター ミュウツーの逆襲 Gekijōban Poketto Monsutā: Myūtsū no Gyakushū ), is a 1998 Japanese animated film directed by Kunihiko Yuyama, the chief director of the Pokémon television series. It is the first theatrical release in the Pokémon franchise. The title can also be interpreted as Mewtwo's Counterattack.
As Pokémon was extremely popular when the film was released, it was a box office success worldwide. It primarily consists of three segments: Pikachu's Vacation, a 21 minute feature focusing on the most popular Pokémon character Pikachu; Origin of Mewtwo, a 10 minute featurette that functions as a prologue to the main feature; and Mewtwo Strikes Back, the main 75 minute film feature. However, the United States dub version by 4Kids Entertainment omitted "Origin of Mewtwo" from the package before its U.S. theatrical run due to its dark nature, as the target MPAA rating was G; it was partially restored in the film's release on VHS and DVD. The featurette was eventually dubbed and restored as a special feature in the U.S. release of the direct-to-video follow-up film sequel Pokémon: Mewtwo Returns.
Pikachu's Vacation (ピカチュウのなつやすみ Pikachū no Natsuyasumi , Pikachu's Summer Vacation) is a 21-minute short film that is shown before Mewtwo Strikes Back in both the theatrical and the DVD version of the main film. It is the first of the "Pikachu shorts" in what would be a traditional process of hosting a 20+ minute mini-movie before the main Pokémon feature that would last up until the sixth that would follow, focuses primarily on an action-packed affair involving solely the Pokémon seen from the anime as they take part in a scenario that eventually illustrates a moral.
In Pokémon fan communities, Pikachu's Vacation was noted for introducing the never-before-seen Pokémon character Snubbull, as well as the first primary anime appearance of Marill. This became a tradition for all Pikachu shorts, as they were used to introduce new Pokémon from the upcoming "generations" of Pokémon games, cards, and anime material.
When Ash and his friends stumble upon a Pokémon-only vacation resort, they decide to let their Pokémon have a day of fun and relaxation and let all their Pokémon out as the trainers go relaxing on their own. Pikachu and the Pokémon (Bulbasaur, Charizard, Squirtle, Pidgeotto, Geodude, Onix, Vulpix, Zubat, Staryu, Goldeen, Psyduck, and Togepi) go off into the resort and immediately contend with an unhappy Togepi, which they succeed in doing. Soon, a group of border-ruffian Pokémon — a Raichu, Cubone, Snubbull, and Marill — come along and immediately cause trouble for Pikachu's group. The ensuing standoff soon becomes a series of competitions such as a swimming race. Their increasingly passionate rivalry soon comes to a standstill when Pikachu's companion Charizard finds its head stuck. Putting aside their squabble, Pikachu and Raichu's groups join together to release Charizard, and they soon find themselves as friends for the rest of the day. At the end of the day, Pikachu and his fellow Pokémon leave the resort with fond memories and new friends and rejoin their trainers.
Mewtwo Strikes Back
The Pokémon Mewtwo was created in an island laboratory from the DNA of Mew, a rare Pokémon believed to be extinct, recovered from fossilized remains. Displeased with the concept of being nothing more than a mere lab experiment, Mewtwo destroys the laboratory. Shortly afterward, he meets Giovanni, the head of Team Rocket, who proposes a partnership with the Pokémon in exchange of helping it control its powers. Mewtwo is "trained" over the next few months, being pitted against challengers in Giovanni's gym and restraining Pokémon for Team Rocket to capture. Mewtwo eventually realizes that Giovanni is merely using him as a tool and destroys his headquarters. Mewtwo flies back to the island where it was created and begins plotting revenge against humanity (Multiple episodes of the Pokemon anime foreshadow these events).
Meanwhile, Ash Ketchum and his friends Misty, Brock, Pikachu, and all their Pokémon companions receive an invitation to a party hosted by the world's "greatest Pokémon Master" on New Island. Ash and his friends are excited and rush to the docks in an attempt to catch a boat to New Island, but a storm is mysteriously formed and all boat rides to the island are canceled. Undeterred, several trainers make their way out to the island by riding their Pokémon, though neither Ash nor his friends have any Pokémon of their own that can help them safely navigate the stormy sea. In their latest plot to steal rare Pokémon, Team Rocket offers the trio a lift to the island, disguised as a pair of Vikings, but their small wooden boat is destroyed by a wave. Ash and his friends manage to reach the island with their aquatic Pokémon, and are escorted inside the palace on the island.
Mewtwo reveals itself to Ash, his friends, and three other trainers who braved the storm battle as the "World's Greatest Pokémon Master," and that it had created the storm with its powers to test the trainers' wills. After being berated by Mewtwo for the relationships they share with their Pokémon, Ash and some of the other trainers challenge Mewtwo after witnessing Mewtwo's confession of having kidnapped Nurse Joy for his own personal purposes, the trainers pits their Pokémon against clones of Venusaur, Blastoise, and Charizard. The clones easily defeat the trainers' Pokémon. Mewtwo proceeds to steal everyone's Pokémon, including Ash's Pikachu, with a special set of Poké Balls; he also captures three trainers with these Poké Balls as well. Ash pursues his Pokémon as they are taken deep into a cloning facility on the island and rescues them while they are being cloned. The clones join with Mewtwo and the cloning machine explodes, releasing all the captured Pokémon. Mewtwo announces its intentions to overthrow humanity with its army of Pokémon and rule the world. Enraged, Ash lashes out at Mewtwo, who repels and blasts him away with its psychic powers. Ash is saved by Mew, the rare, playful Pokémon having appeared periodically before, who is engaged by Mewtwo. A brutal battle between the trainers' Pokémon and their clones erupts, although Pikachu refuses to fight with its own clone.
The trainers are unable to bear this senseless violence, even while the two sides grow fatigued and Mew and Mewtwo continue fighting. In an attempt to put an end to the ordeal, Mew and Mewtwo sum up all their remaining powers for one final duel. As they open fire however, Ash runs to the center of the arena in a brave but desperate attempt to stop the fight. Ash is turned into stone in the attack, and he collapses in the center of the arena. Pikachu runs to the side of its now-deceased trainer. After trying to get him off the floor, Pikachu attempts again using Thunderbolt, but in vain. In its grief, Pikachu starts crying for its fallen master, the other Pokémon in the arena doing the same. The tears reach Ash, their mystical healing powers reviving him. As everyone rejoices, Mewtwo, taken aback by Ash's act of selflessness to save all the Pokémon, has an epiphany over the relationship between humans and Pokémon, and realizes that the circumstances of how one is born should not be allowed to divide anyone. It leaves the island with Mew and the cloned Pokémon, erasing everyone else's memory of the horrifying incident, knowing it's for the best.
Ash and his friends find themselves back on the docks with no idea how they got there. Ash looks up to the sky and spots Mew flying past, and recounts to his friends how he saw a rare Pokémon on the first day of his journey.
- Rica Matsumoto (Veronica Taylor in the English adaptation) as Satoshi (Ash Ketchum in the English adaptation), the main protagonist of the film. He desires to be the world's most powerful Pokémon master and is one of the trainers summoned to New Island by Mewtwo.
- Ikue Ōtani as Pikachu, Satoshi's/Ash's first and most loyal Pokémon - a yellow mouse capable of manipulating electricity.
- Mayumi Iizuka (Rachael Lillis in the English adaptation) as Kasumi (Misty in the English adaptation), Satoshi's/Ash's travelling partner.
- Yūji Ueda (Eric Stuart in the English adaptation) as Takeshi (Brock in the English adaptation), a Pokémon breeder and Satoshi's/Ash's travelling partner.
- Satomi Kōrogi as Togepi, a Pokémon owned by Kasumi/Misty.
- Megumi Hayashibara (Rachael Lillis in the English adaptation) as Musashi (Jessie in the English adaptation), a member of Team Rocket who infiltrates New Island alongside Kojirō/James and Nyarth/Meowth.
- Shin-ichiro Miki (Eric Stuart in the English adaptation) as Kojirō (James in the English adaptation), a member of Team Rocket.
- Inuko Inuyama (Adam Blaustein in the English adaptation) as Nyarth (Meowth in the English adaptation), a member of Team Rocket. He is a cat-like Pokémon that can walk upright and speak the human language.
- Satoshi's Pokémon:
- Megumi Hayashibara as Fushigidane (Bulbasaur in the English adaptation)
- Shin-ichiro Miki as Lizardon (Charizard in the English adaptation)
- Rikako Aikawa as Zenigame (Squirtle in the English adaptation)
- Unshō Ishizuka (Rodger Parsons in the English adaptation) as the Narrator
New human characters
- Wataru Takagi (Jimmy Zoppi in the English adaptation) as Umio (Fergus in the English adaptation), a hot-blooded Water Pokémon trainer invited to New Island. The Pokémon he owns consist of Gyarados, Nidoqueen, Dokukurage (Tentacruel in the English adaptation), Showers (Vaporeon in the English adaptation), Golduck and Seadra.
- Tōru Furuya (Ted Lewis in the English adaptation) as Sorao (Corey in the English adaptation), a Nature Pokémon trainer invited to New Island. The Pokémon he owns consist of Pidgeot, Fushigibana (Venusaur in the English adaptation), Strike (Scyther in the English adaptation), Sawamular (Hitmonlee in the English adaptation), Sandpan (Sandslash in the English adaptation) and Sihorn (Rhyhorn in the English adaptation).
- Aiko Satō (Lisa Ortiz in the English adaptation) as Sweet (Neesha in the English adaptation), a Sweet Pokémon trainer invited to New Island. The Pokémon she owns consist of Dewgong, Kamex (Blastoise in the English adaptation), Gallop (Rapidash in the English adaptation), Wigglytuff, Kyūkon (Ninetales in the English adaptation) and Rafflesia (Vileplume in the English adaptation).
- Sachiko Kobayashi (Kayzie Rogers in the English adaptation) as Voyager (Miranda in the English adaptation)
- Raymond Johnson(Maddie Blaustein in the English adaptation) as the Pirate Trainer, a Pokémon trainer Satoshi/Ash defeats in the beginning of the film. His Pokémon include Donphan and Kairiki (Machamp in the English adaptation).
- Masachika Ichimura (Phillip Bartlett in the English adaptation) as Mewtwo, the main antagonist of the film. He is a genetically-engineered Pokémon who questions the meaning of his life due to the circumstances of his birth and strikes back against humanity to prove his own worth. Possessing great psychic power, he is able to manipulate the weather, control the minds of others and verbally communicate telepathically. During his younger years, he is voiced by Fujiko Takimoto in a drama CD covering his backstory and by Showtaro Morikubo in the animated adaptation of the drama CD.
- Kōichi Yamadera as Mew, an extremely rare Pokémon who faces off against Mewtwo in the New Island castle.
- Tesshō Genda as Kusukusu (Shellshocker in the English adaptation), a Kamex (Blastoise in the English adaptation) owned by Sweet.
- Ryūzaburō Ōtomo as Bernard (Bruteroot in the English adaptation), a Fushigibana (Venusaur in the English adaptation) owned by Sorao.
- Mitsuru Ogata as Kairyū (Dragonite in the English adaptation), a Pokémon that delivers Satoshi's invitation to New Island to him.
- Hirotaka Suzuoki (Ted Lewis in the English adaptation) as Sakaki (Giovanni in the English adaptation), the boss of Team Rocket. He takes in Mewtwo and teaches him to harness his psychic powers in hopes of using him in his plot for global domination, but fails as Mewtwo abandons him.
- Chinami Nishimura (Megan Hollingshead in the English adaptation) as Junsa (Jenny in the English adaptation), a policewoman who suspends the service of the ferryboats in lieu of the recent storm.
- Ayako Shiraishi (Megan Hollingshead in the English adaptation) as Joi (Joy in the English adaptation), a female doctor who goes missing from the Pokémon Center.
- Yōsuke Akimoto (Alexander Davis in the English adaptation) as Doctor Fuji, a scientist who performs genetic experiments in an attempt to revive his beloved daughter, creating Mewtwo in the process.
- Kyōko Hikami as Aitsū (Amber in the English adaption), the deceased daughter of Doctor Fuji. She makes contact with Mewtwo when she is a child and teaches him about the ways of the world before her physical body deteriorates.
- Shinobu Adachi as the Wife, Doctor Fuji's wife and Aitsū's mother.
- Katsuyuki Konishi and Chiyako Shibahara as scientists
- Yūji Ueda as Hitokage 2 (Charmander 2 in the English adaptation)
- Satomi Kōrogi as Zenigame 2 (Squirtle 2 in the English adaptation)
- Etsuko Kozakura as Fushigidane 2 (Bulbasaur 2 in the English adaptation)
- Shinpachi Tsuji and Tomohisa Asō as investigators
- Hidenari Ugaki, Takuma Suzuki and Akio Suyama as researchers
- Tomokazu Seki as Menokurage (Tentacool in the English adaptation)
Kunihiko Yuyama directed the original Japanese version of the film, while Choji Yoshikawa served as that version's producer and Takeshi Shudo served as the writer. Norman J. Grossfeld then the president of 4Kids, served as the English-language film's producer. Grossfeld, Michael Haigney and John Touhey wrote the English adaptation, and Michael Haigney served as the English version's voice director. The English version editors translated various Japanese texts, including text on signs and on buildings, into English. Shogakukan digitally altered the backgrounds for the U.S. English version. In the English dub, three Pokémon are referred to by the wrong name. Pidgeot was called Pidgeotto, Scyther was called Alakazam, and Sandslash was called Sandshrew. In the audio commentary, 4Kids stated that they decided to leave the Alakazam error when they noticed it as something for the children watching to notice and because they felt it was plausible in context that Team Rocket could make a mistake.
Grossfeld said that the English-language producers rescored the music since the new music "would better reflect what American kids would respond to." John Loeffler of Rave Music produced the English-language music and composed the music with Ralph Schuckett. Loeffler collaborated with John Lissauer and Manny Corallo to produce the English-language "Pikachu's Vacation" score. Grossfeld said that the English version of the film "combines the visual sense of the best Japanese animation with the musical sensibility of Western pop culture."
For the film's theatrical release, select theaters would give away exclusive Pokémon trading cards, to capitalize on the success of the trading card game. The cards featured likenesses of Electabuzz, Pikachu, Mewtwo, and Dragonite, and were dispensed in random order for each week it was in that particular theater. The subsequent releases of Pokémon: The Movie 2000 and Pokémon 3: The Movie featured a similar marketing campaign. For the 2000 VHS/DVD release of The First Movie, a limited edition Mewtwo card (different from that used for the theatrical release) was packaged with the video.
The film was a box office hit, making $10,096,848 on its Wednesday opening day, a tally of $31,036,678 over the Friday-to-Sunday span, and a total of $50,754,104 since its Wednesday launch, in 3,043 theaters, averaging to about $10,199 per venue over the three day span, and ranking as the number one film at the box office for that weekend, however collapsed 59.72% in its second weekend to $12,502,869, but bringing the 12-day cume to $67,372,092. It closed on February 27, 2000 making $85,744,662 in North America, and $77,900,000 in other territories. All together, the film made $163,644,662, making it the highest-grossing anime film in the United States and the third highest-grossing animated film based on a television show worldwide. It was also the highest-grossing film based on a video game at the time, until Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in 2001.
The film received negative reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 14% "Rotten" approval rating, the best for the pokémon movie series tied with "Pokémon 2000", based on the reviews of 77 critics, although the consensus being, "Audiences other than children will find very little to entertain them. The film reviews from the audience also received a 62% "Rotten" approval rating. On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 55 out of 100 based on 25 reviews, meaning "generally unfavorable reviews".
Pikachu's Summer Vacation received generally negative reviews. Anime News Network's review of Pokémon: The First Movie called it "contradictory", saying that "the anti-violent message that is pretty much crammed down our throats works directly against the entire point of the franchise" and criticized Pikachu's Summer Vacation for being "incoherent, pointless and fluffy". Although it should be noted that this message only exists in the American dubbed version of the film while the Japanese version conveys a completely different message involving God. Patrick Butters, of The Washington Times, accused Pokémon: The First Movie of taking ideas from other films such as Star Wars and being "just another cog in the mighty Nintendo machine". Michael Wood, of England's Coventry Evening Telegraph said that Pikachu's Summer Vacation "can only be described as a mind-numbingly tedious piece, with no discernible storyline and lots of trippy images and silly voices". Wood did note that Pokémon: The First Movie had a "mildly intriguing premise", but said that the rest of the film "was like a martial arts movie without the thrills".
Toshihiro Ono, author of Pokémon: The Electric Tale of Pikachu, created a manga version of the film. Ono received the scripts and continuity in April 1998. The manga was released in May of that year. Ono's editors asked him to draw Mewtwo's birth, which was not included in the film. At a later point the anime staff wrote the Origin of Mewtwo special, which does not match Ono's story. Ono said that "there's not much connection between the manga and the movie."
Pokémon: The First Movie Original Motion Picture Score Soundtrack album by Various artists Released May 9, 2000 Genre Film score Length 49:43 Label Koch Records Producer John Loeffler Various artists chronology Pokémon World
Pokémon: The First Movie Original Motion Picture Score
Pokémon: The Movie 2000
- "Pokémon Theme" - Billy Crawford
- "Don't Say You Love Me" - M2M
- "It Was You" - Ashley Ballard - (With So Plush)
- "We're A Miracle" - Christina Aguilera
- "Soda Pop" - Britney Spears
- "Somewhere, Someday" - N'Sync
- "Get Happy" - B*Witched
- "(Hey You) Free Up Your Mind" - Emma Bunton
- "Fly With Me" - 98 Degrees
- "Lullaby" - Mandah (Willa Ford)
- "Vacation" - Vitamin C
- "Makin' My Way (Any Way That I Can)" - Billie Piper
- "Catch Me If You Can" - Angela Via
- "Have Some Fun With The Funk" - Aaron Carter
- "If Only Tears Could Bring You Back" - Midnight Sons
- "Brother My Brother" - Blessid Union of Souls
Original Motion Picture Score
- "The Birth of Mewtwo"
- "Dragonite Takes Flight"
- "Invitation to Danger"
- "Surviving the Storm"
- "Mewtwo's Island"
- "Pokémon Vs. Clone"
- "Tears of Life"
- "This Is My World Now"
- "Three on Three"
- "Mew's Theme"
- "Freeing Charizard"
- "Adventure in Paradise"
- "All Good Things Must End"
- "The Show Must Go On"
* Tracks 11 to 13 are from Pikachu's Vacation. Some versions of the CD come with a 14th bonus track, listed as the theme to the first Pokémon series, when on the CD, it is the theme to the second series. The US score was released by Koch Records..
- ^ McCarthy, Helen (2008). 500 essential Anime Movies. Collins Design. ISBN 978-0-06-147450-7.
- ^ http://www.nydailynews.com/archives/entertainment/1999/11/10/1999-11-10__pokemon__a_catchy_toon_crea.html
- ^ "The Making of Pokémon". Pokémon: The First Movie official website. Warner Bros.. 1999. Archived from the original on October 4, 2010. http://www.webcitation.org/5tDdA5W7c. Retrieved October 16, 2008.
- ^ a b "About the Phenomenon". Pokémon: The First Movie official website. Warner Bros.. 1999. Archived from the original on October 4, 2010. http://www.webcitation.org/5tDdEFcN3. Retrieved October 16, 2008.
- ^ Pokemon: The First Movie DVD Audio Commentary
- ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0190641/trivia
- ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0190641/
- ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0190641/
- ^ "Pokemon the First Movie - Mewtwo vs. Mew (1999)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/pokemon-the-first-movie-mewtwo-vs-mew/. Retrieved October 4, 2010.
- ^ "Pocket Monsters: Mewtwo Strikes Back! reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. http://www.metacritic.com/movie/pocket-monsters-mewtwo-strikes-back!. Retrieved October 4, 2010.
- ^ "Pokémon: The First Movie DVD -Review-". Anime News Network. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/review/pokemon-the-first-movie-dvd. Retrieved October 25, 2008.
- ^ Butters, Patrick. "Lame Script, Wooden Characters Make Pokémon a Joke, Man; The Washington Times. November 10, 1999. pg 5.
- ^ Michael Wood, "Cinema: Okay Pokey; Go2," Coventry Evening Telegraph (England) April 14, 2000.
- ^ "Animerica Interview Toshihiro Ono." VIZ Media. May 10, 2000. Retrieved on May 31, 2009.
- Official website
- Pokémon: The First Movie at the Internet Movie Database
- Pokémon: The First Movie at AllRovi
- Pokémon: The First Movie at Rotten Tomatoes
- Pokémon: The First Movie at Box Office Mojo
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